“Meat” made from soybeans and wheat10.10.2007 The Swiss company Fredag AG has added vegetarian escalopes to its product range. Buhler supplied the production plant and the required process expertise. Fredag AG is a Swiss producer of high-grade convenience foods for caterers and retailers inside and outside Switzerland. Its plant near Lucerne predominantly processes poultry beside pork and fish. Typical Fredag products include escalopes in breadcrumbs, chicken nuggets, cordons bleus (esca-lopes covered with breadcrumbs and filled with a cheese center), and minced meat. But in the raw materials storage section of Fredag AG, you will also find wheat flour and soy. Since recently, Fredag has been using them for making vegetarian meat substitutes on cutting-edge Buhler production systems.
Switching to vegetable products
An increasing number of people are changing their dietary habits. Issues such as BSE, avian flu, and hog cholera (swine fever) as well as ethics have sensitized consumers. More and more humans are choosing the foods they eat with greater awareness and seeking to replace animal proteins and fats by vegetable substitutes. Alternatives to meat consumption are becoming increasingly important in menus and are an important trend today. In response to these developments, Fredag AG has launched a range of vegetarian meat substitutes.
Buhler was the reliable partner in the development of the process, the production line, and ultimately also the recipes for the new products. The goal was to develop a “vegetarian escalope.” This would have to be an escalope that looks and tastes like a traditional one and also has its fibrous texture but is made of vegetable raw materials. The product requirements were high, since similar products al-ready existed in the marketplace. But Fredag planned to differentiate itself clearly on the basis of a new quality grade and to cover additional needs.
The new vegetarian products are based on soy and wheat proteins, which are textured by a Buhler extruder. These raw materials are fed together with water into an extruder. There, the chemical bonds between the protein molecules are dissolved with the aid of suitable process parameters. The resulting mass is then conveyed toward a die. The protein molecules recombine as they pass through the die holes, and the protein melt solidifies. With the proper raw materials and process parameters, the re-sulting product will have a fibrous texture resembling that of meat.
Successful market launch
Fredag has now expanded its product range by adding vegetarian escalopes, cordons bleus, nuggets, and chopped and minced vegetable “meat.” At Fredag, people do not doubt for a moment that the new products are a genuine alternative to meat in terms of both taste and bite. The launch has been suc-cessful and the new products are already available inside and outside Switzerland.